*** Wanted to clarify an error on our part. You will read on your introduction to this tea, the name Manyue Village….which is not correct. Manyue is in fact a a village but not from where these leaves are from. When Jeff was sampling this tea last year there was a mixup with names of teas and that mixup continued. Your tea is a Bada Mountain tea but not a Manyue Village tea. Wanted you to know. It remains an exceptional tea full of promise and all of the superb elements that Bada’s carry. We continue to source from this area precisely because of the consistency. Apologies for any confusion. Enjoy!***
Tea caravans for 13-Centuries ushered leaves from southwestern China onto the Tibetan Plateau along ancient pre-existing migration roads and pathways. The above bridge lies along one of the last remaining broad portions of the Tea Horse Road in Central Tibet. Tea along with salt, resin, and wool were prized above most other commodities for centuries to some of the most remote communities. Yunnan Puerhs were known fondly as teas with bite and strength.
There is a widely held view that Spring flushes within the tea realm offer up the most exquisite flavours and delicacies. Whether it be in southwestern Yunnan’s Puerh strongholds, Taiwan’s high mountain Oolong realms or Darjeelings sub-Himalayan hills, the view is the same. Of course the hands and processes that come after the harvest matter as well, but the leaves that are harvested in Spring are considered to have greatly benefited from cooler temperatures (which allow for less ‘pests’ as well as slower growth rates) and ideal precipitation amounts, duration and intensity.
Though far removed from the tea growing belts, this valley in northern Nepal saw caravans pass through laden with tea destined for small communities and market centers alike. In each and every community tea was coveted and the caravans were often considered sacred, because of tea’s unrivalled importance.
Bada Mountain and its surrounds have perhaps some of the most idyllic natural environments and climate in the entire south of Yunnan. We’ve returned many a time to the Bada region to sip and source because of the sense that even the summer and autumn harvests offer up something quite wonderful each and every year. Combined with a long tradition of the local Hani producer’s attention to detail at every stage of harvest and production, it is one of the most coveted of all regions to source from. Much is made of a tea’s origins but in the end it requires attentive hands and care to enhance and ensure that the leaves’ qualities are not diminished.
The precious pan-fry in the Puerh producing regions. This stage is vital for the leaves and if not done well by competent hands the leaves will be altered. Low, smokeless heat, and a constant churning of the leaves is vital to ensure even distribution of heat and elimination of moisture.
All of the benefits of being isolated from the swells of too many humans with their sprays and noise are to be found in the Bada Mountain region. Great soils along with steep slopes make for ideal drainage allowing the roots to flourish and an almost perfect level of humidity year round serve to keep a kind of horticultural utopia intact. The region is rich with herbs and wildlife and in many ways Bada Mountain remains just well enough away from the masses to retain its sanctity.
The wrap!! Tea cakes are wrapped using banana leaves in a ‘tong’ which is usually (but not always) made up of seven cakes of tea. In southern Yunnan the process is still very much manual and requiring expertise.
This early autumn 2017 harvest from 30-50 year old bushes that lie at between 1300-1500 metres, has subtle strength and layers of flavor that come out in incremental infusions. It remains an ideal tea to consume if one likes a good bit of vegetal force, but it can also be a superb tea to age as it has enough strength. This is one of those teas that we value as it embodies what a good Puerh is about: vegetal layers that are reflective of the soil, while being able to age and evolve with time into something classic. There is no surefire recipe or tea that can be predicted to age well but in our years of sourcing and consuming Bada’s it (along with another old favorite of ours Zhang Lang) seems almost certain to go from strength to strength in terms of ageing.
Puerh leaves come in loose leaf form as well as the more commonly known compressed cakes, bricks or balls.
We couldn’t resist…our first place Sheng at the recent Toronto Tea Festival, from Bulang Mountain, which was one of our offerings to our 2017 clients. We’ll be sourcing from Bulang Mountain again in 2018 for certain.
For storage we always recommend ‘dry’ storage as opposed to wet. Wet storage often refers to deliberately humid climes, basements, or even earthen chambers. Dry storage can be something as simple as a bedroom closet away from scents, spices, and dramatic changes in temperature. Puerh needs oxygen and unlike most greens, Oolongs, Darjeelings, and white teas should be stored outside of any airtight containers.
While we encourage each drinker to tinker with infusion times and amounts of tea used according to taste, the below is a good base from which to begin the JalamTeas Bada Sheng experience.
If this is your first tea cake, here is a step-by-step guide on how to break and prepare a tea cake.
Do not be afraid to tinker with the below recommendations. A classic bit of vegetal flavor with great depth in the mouth along with a superb finish. This tea continues to open up with each infusion. Try playing with slightly different infusion times as well as the amount of leaves to find the right feel…and that feel may vary depending on the drinker or the time of day.
We recommend not less than 6 grams per serving; ideally 8 grams. Locals in southern Yunnan will use as much as 12 grams and wring out more than a dozen infusions, keeping the infusion times relatively short.
When the tongue ceases to enjoy an infusion's strength, that is the time to begin anew with a fresh load of leaves.
Don't be shy to ask me any questions about your tea leaves or anything related at [email protected]. You have my ears and I will get back in touch with you.